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Morocco rejects appeals of journalists Omar Radi and Soulamaine Raissouni

Morocco’s highest court on Wednesday upheld the convictions of two journalists, Omar Radi and Soulamaine Raissouni, rejecting their final appeals.

The two journalists were imprisoned on sexual assault charges, charges they deny. 

Radi was sentenced to six years in prison and Raissouni to five years. 

Defence lawyers for the journalists had called the trials “flawed” after the pair were convicted and sentenced on appeal a year and a half ago. 

While Moroccan authorities say the men were tried for common law crimes which “have nothing to do” with their profession or with freedom of expression, human rights organisations have criticised Morocco. 

Last year, Human Rights Watch accused Morocco of using criminal trials, especially for alleged sexual offences, as “techniques of repression” to silence journalists and government critics. 

In response, authorities have insisted on the “justice system’s independence” and “the rights of victims”.

Lawyers for journalists and human rights defenders detained in Morocco urged authorities to find a “judicial, political and legal solution” so that the two journalists could regain their freedom. 

The Court of Cassation has also upheld the conviction and one-year jail term of journalist Imad Stitou, who was linked to Radi’s case. 

Stitou was tried in absentia, having left Morocco. 

Reporters Without Borders (RSF) have ranked Morocco at 144th place globally in its latest World Press Freedom Index, down nine places from 2022. 

The European Parliament has also voiced their concern over Morocco’s deteriorating press freedom, with a resolution in January that was adopted by a large majority, triggering the wrath of the Moroccan political class and media.

Source: africanews

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Amine Rhissassi

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